Mahmudur Rahman printed stories involving allegations of corruption about the Prime Minister’s family and her cabinet.

He is in prison and his newspaper has been forced to stop publishing.

Shamsher Mobin Chowdhury wrote an article in the Daily Star analyzing BNP’s victory in the Chittagong City Corporation elections.

He is in prison.

Shahiduddin Chowdhury said that Bangabandhu cannot avoid responsibility for the forty thousand people killed during his administration.

He is brutalized, denied medical treatment, and then sent to prison.

The list goes on and on.

Here’s the latest entry:

Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir’s parliamentary membership is cancelled; he is no longer a MP. The seat, Chandpur-1, will be declared vacant by the Election Commission, and a by-election will be held to it.

His BNP opponent, Ehsanul Haque Milon, has been kept in the prison for the last one year, on absurd charges such as stealing wristwatches, solely so that when this moment would come, Alamgir would have some slight edge over his younger, more telegenic opponent.

Here is the Awami League 2008 Election Manifesto, the much-celebrated “Charter for Change:

“Good governance through establishing Rule of Law and avoiding Political Partisanship. Human rights will be established on a strong footing with a view to ensuring rule of law. Independence of the judiciary will be ensured and the Institutions of the State and Administration will be freed from partisan influence.”

What is more partisan than keeping an individual in jail for more than a year just so that he will not be able to mount an effective challenge in an election?

None of this should be news to anyone. Milon’s daughter, Tanzida Nahar Haque, said as much in a recent press conference: “”It is a matter of regret that political enmity can be so ruthless and inhuman.”

It is, indeed.

After Major Jasimuddin in Bhola, Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir is the second Awami League coalition candidate whose nomination has been found illegal: which means he should not have been able to contest the election in the very first place. There are at least two more AL and Jatiyo Party MPs whose nomination will also similarly be cancelled. Then there is Sheikh Helal, the MP from Bagerhat-1, who also won an election under a conviction.

These are five members of parliament who should not have even been eligible to contest the last parliamentary elections. That they still became MPs lends proof of the BNP’s allegation that the last caretaker government under Fakhruddin Ahmed and the Election Commission did everything in their power to help Awami League. If five Awami League coalition candidates were allowed to contest in direct contravention of the laws, how many were made to win by the administration’s covert and overt manipulation on election day?

2008 is past, the string of by-elections is now the future. There is no doubt that Awami League will try their very hardest to win, through coercion and force, if necessary. Even if they win, such victories will do incalculable long-term harm to this government. There are only bad options in front of Sheikh Hasina from now on. One fears, she will stay true to character, and continue to choose only the very worst ones.